23 May 2024 09:07 PM

Speech delivered by Sisi on the Occasion of Pope Francis' Visit to Egypt

Saturday، 29 April 2017 - 12:51 PM

"In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful and Compassionate"

Your Holiness Pope Francis, Pope of the Roman Catholic Church

The Grand Imam of al-Azhar,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me, at the outset, to welcome once again His Holiness Pope Francis in Egypt. His Holiness is a dear guest, a unique personality, and an eminent religious and spiritual leader, who is revered by millions of human beings in all parts of the world, from all faiths alike. It is my pleasure to pay all respect and appreciation to the person of His Holiness and his noble humanitarian positions which unleash the power of hope in the hearts of people; which gather not divide, unite and not disperse; which cultivate good and hope in the hearts of people; and which root out evil and despair from their lives.

I confirm to Your Holiness that your positions which are based on promoting tolerance, peace and co-existence among all nations are a source of admiration and respect. With all appreciation, I recall my first encounter with Your Holiness at the Vatican in November 2014. And I remember with gratitude that I have listened to your vision which demonstrates insightfulness that emanates from a soul filled with faith in the ability of humans to do good, a soul that enjoys a profound wisdom which realizes the importance of dealing with the complexities of a difficult reality in order to reach noble objectives that preserve to all their humanity and disseminate justice, peace and welfare among them.

I welcome you, Your Holiness, on the land of Egypt, which has written over time illuminated chapters in the history of humanity and has blended, with unparalleled brilliance, the heavenly messages to humans and brought light to the world that illuminates the path towards peace, construction and tolerance among all human beings.

Over the ages, this blessed land has embraced various civilizations, religions and cultures. It has also been the homeland of people who believe that religion is for God, that the homeland is for all and that God's mercy encompasses all humans of various races and faiths. On this land, Your Holiness, Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary found refuge, security and peace and roamed it, protected from the tyranny of King Herod. Egypt, as it had always been, was the safe haven and merciful fortress.

Your Holiness Pope Francis

We consider your historic visit to Egypt today, which coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and the Vatican, as a message that emphasizes the relations of appreciation and respect that bind Egypt and the Vatican. Those relations are based on a common belief in the sublime moral values which were entrenched by heavenly religions to become a constitution for coexistence among human beings on earth in peace and love, and a foundation for preventing conflicts that only disseminate violence and destruction among the sons of the human family. We confirmed during our meeting today the importance for these principles to remain a cresset for leaders and governments in our world today as they are facing unprecedented challenges.

The world is witnessing days of rising violence and hatred. Blind and preposterous terrorist attacks have hit every place without distinction. They have caused our hearts to ache over losing family, beloved ones and friends. Our pain increases when these forces of evil claim that these acts are associated with the great religion of Islam, which is innocent of them and which they have disowned. True Islam has never commanded killing innocents or terrorizing their safety, but it has commanded tolerance, mercy and good deeds, which are beneficial to people, as well as respect for the other and his right to choose his religion and faith.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Egypt is at the forefront of combating this terrorist evil. Its people are enduring, with patience, pride and sacrifice, an expensive cost for confronting this grave danger and they are determined to defeat and eradicate it, to maintain our unity and not allow it to divide us.

In this context, I reiterate that the permanent eradication of terrorism requires more coordination and solidarity among peace loving nations in the international community. It requires a unified effort to dry up its sources, either by funding or providing fighters or arms. Eradicating terrorism requires a comprehensive strategy that takes into account not only military and security measures but also developmental, intellectual and political aspects that shall address the root causes of terrorism and prevent terrorist groups from recruiting new members.

In this context, I cannot miss the opportunity to value and appreciate Pope Francis' positions in support of promoting dialogue with the Egyptian religious institutions after pausing for years. Re-launching interfaith dialogue between the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar was a historic step that will have a great impact on strengthening our efforts to renew the religious discourse and presenting an enlightened religious thought that helps us confront the grave challenges that our region and the entire world are facing. Al-Azhar, which represents a great legacy, exerts valuable efforts to disseminate the true teachings of Islam and presents a model of true Islam, plays an indispensable role in confronting calls for extremism as well as the invalid ideological grounds of terrorist groups. I would like to express appreciation for your constructive participation in the International Peace Conference organized by Al-Azhar in Cairo. This participation confirms your keenness on reinforcing the culture of interfaith dialogue to support the values of love, peace and coexistence.

In reciprocation, the historic visit that Pope Tawadros made to the Vatican in 2013 and the declaration of May 10 as a Day of Friendship between the Coptic Church and Catholic Church have been significant to enhancing cooperation between the ancient Egyptian religious institutions and the Vatican. Here you are, Your Holiness, a dear guest in Egypt in the attendance of representatives of its ancient religious institutions. Receiving Your Holiness on the land of Egypt is a declaration to the world of the strength of our national unity, this unity that we consider as our front line of defense against those who hold evil for our country.

Your Holiness Pope Francis,

We would like to welcome you once again as a kind guest of Egypt and we share great hope for a better future that embraces a pledge of peace, mercy and tolerance. We hope that you have a pleasant stay in our country and pray for God Almighty to forever grant Egypt and the entire world security, tranquility and stability.

Thank you and peace be upon you."

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